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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Pyle - How the Good Gifts Were Used by Two - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

School Spring Breaks ended this past week where I have school residencies.  That plus two other programs has made for a busy week.  For some crazy reason that helped me wake up thinking of a story I like but have never told.  I remembered it being told (and illustrated) by Howard Pyle, but almost missed it because it starts out with a visit from Saint Nicholas who gives a gift that was not the part I remembered.  The story has that first visit, but I'm going to give only the barest part of the introduction and skip to the second half where Saint Christopher visits.  It's perfectly complete by itself.  If you want to read the whole thing, go to Pyle's The Wonder Clock at  (The story starts on page 123, which is officially Ten O'Clock as the book is organized to be a story for each hour.)

One other quick note, my copy of this book originally published in 1887 is bound so tightly the "gutter" (the part in the center of two pages where it is held to the binding) is a bit fuzzy when I reproduce it.  I've done all I can to enhance it here, but it starts out a bit challenging.
Saint Nicholas's visit is omitted and we continue on page 128 with Saint Christopher visiting the same two brothers.
Pyle's version almost fooled me, starting with an earlier visit, but it's a type of story about the Wise and the Foolish, specifically wishes that have you doing all day what you begin.  Estonia and Finland tell the story as sneezing all day.  Sweden has a more complicated version with legs breaking, nose pulling and a fish being the one to grant wishes.  There are also many stories with the saints traveling down to earth, but this is the one that started my day.

If you want to keep on doing all day what you're doing now, there's plenty of stories here to read!
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - 
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

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